The fairy-tale comeback of Cambridge galloper Julius was completed at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day when the gentle giant took out the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m).
Retired from the racetrack just on twelve months ago due to a serious tendon injury, the lightly-raced eight-year-old spent time roaming the expanses of a west coast sheep station where his recuperative powers shone through to the point that trainer John Bell brought him back into work.
A long, slow build-up featuring plenty of walking and pool work had him in shape to make his raceday return at Pukekohe over 1100m in late November where he finished a gallant third. A winning run at Te Rapa last month over 1400m had him primed for his Railway bid where regular rider Jason Waddell was at his brilliant best as he dictated the tempo of the event from outside pacemaker Speedy Meady before setting Julius alight in the home straight.
The strapping Swiss Ace gelding burst to the front, closely followed by Australian visitor Winter Bride and the pair set down to fight out the finish. Calling on all his reserves Julius held out Winter Bride to take out his first Group 1 crown with Evalina making up good ground to take third ahead of Dawn Patrol.
Waddell was struggling to keep his emotions in check as he made his way back to a rousing ovation from the Ellerslie crowd. “This is unbelievable and I couldn’t have asked for a better run or a better team of supporters around me,” Waddell said. “This horse is just an incredible horse, he’s one of a kind. “I really wanted to control the race as the speed was only moderate. I knew at the 1000m they were going to have to be good to beat me. “I saw something coming out of the corner of my eye and he does labour a bit when in front, but with a couple of big screams it was wahoo, we did it! “I’m so proud of my horse and I just love him to bits.”
Trainer John Bell was also riding a wave of emotion as he spoke about his charge. “It means everything and just to have him here was an absolute honour and a privilege,” he said. “To see him do what he did to such a class field was just wonderful. “He did himself the injury so he went out on to 3500 acres and started tearing it up so we thought we’d better bring him back in to get him under control. “It was just a wonderful effort and now I’m just hoping it all stays together for the future.”
Bell indicated that as long as the horse comes through the run well a tilt at the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 18 would be the next target. Purchased for $44,000 by Bell from the Westbury Stud draft during the Select Sale at Karaka in 2013, Julius has now won nine of his 16 starts and over $394,000 in prizemoney.
Westbury Stud will offer a Reliable Man half-brother to Julius as Lot 141 during the Book 1 session at the upcoming National Yearling Sale at Karaka.